Phil Murphy Sowing the Seeds of Sanctuary Statehood in the Garden State
Jennifer G. Hickey
Newly inaugurated New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy plans to follow in the footsteps of California’s Jerry Brown and Washington State’s Jay Inslee by leading the state toward sanctuary status.Murphy recently told The Washington Post of his goal to create an Office of Immigrant Defensive Protection, a state agency charged protecting the rights of all immigrants – legal and illegal.“It would be a place where everybody could call with questions about their status,” Murphy said. “Our guess is it’s going to be legal-services-oriented. One remarkable thing, and you probably have seen this, the rumors that swirl around communities are extraordinary, and it’s literally hard to get, particularly if you’re undocumented, the right answer to your question. That’s when people go back into the shadows.”The idea of committing taxpayer funds to the legal defense of a group of individuals who have broken U.S. immigration laws might seem counterintuitive, but Murphy would not be the first to adopt a foolish policy.In 2017, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent $10 million to create “the nation’s first legal defense fund to ensure all immigrants, regardless of residency status, have access to representation.” Cuomo’s justification is that legal resources are needed “for immigrants threatened by recent changes in immigration policies.”As a candidate, the former Goldman Sachs financier promised illegal immigrants he would provide them with state IDs, driver’s licenses and legal help to evade immigration enforcement officials.And, he said, illegal immigrants would have access to college financial aid — “not just in-state tuition.”While he says he prefers “welcoming” to “sanctuary” as terms to characterize his policies, there is no confusion about where he stands on immigration and public safety.To ensure his sanctuary policies would be defended if challenged in the courts, Murphy appointed Gurbir Grewal to serve as attorney general. Grewal would be “unafraid to join our fellow states in using the law” to “protect our immigrant communities and DREAMers from discrimination,” said Murphy shortly after his election.The priority of Murphy and Grewal should be to protect residents from the criminal aliens, gangs and human traffickers, including the more than 100 foreign nationals were apprehended during a five-day operation that took place in several New Jersey counties in December.Of those arrested during the operation, 88 percent were convicted criminals and 80 percent of them had prior felony convictions.Perhaps Murphy forgot that his foremost priority is to protect and defend the rights of all New Jersey residents, not just the ones living in the Garden State illegally.
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